Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dumont Miniature of Marie-Antoinette

Notice the double eagle on her belt. She is the Daughter of the Caesars. From Tiny-Librarian. Share

The Time is Now

For the conversion of men. To quote:
“Neither theological knowledge nor social action alone is enough to keep us in love with Christ unless both are proceeded by a personal encounter with Him. Theological insights are gained not only from between two covers of a book, but from two bent knees before an altar. The Holy Hour becomes like an oxygen tank to revive the breath of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the foul and fetid atmosphere of the world.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen 
 In a recent article posted at Catholic Gentleman, Matthew Christoff of the New Emangelization Project, continues to do a yeoman’s job in raising awareness of the Catholic “man-crisis” in the Church today.
Despite the fact the New Evangelization has been an ongoing emphasis by the Catholic Church for over forty years, it has failed to stem the disastrous losses of the faithful in the U.S.. Since 2000, 14 million Catholics have left the faith, parish religious education participation of children has dropped by 24%, Catholic school attendance has dropped by 19%, baptisms of infants has dropped by 28%, baptism of adults has dropped by 31% and sacramental Catholic marriages have dropped by 41%. Something is desperately wrong with the Church’s approach to the New Evangelization.

One reason the New Evangelization is faltering is because it is missing men. The New Emangelization Project has documented the serious Catholic “man-crisis” in the United States. 1 in 3 baptized Catholic men have left the faith and of those who remain, 50-60% of them are “Casual Catholics”, men who don’t know and don’t practice the faith. Of those who practice the faith, many are lukewarm, not converted to the point of conviction, a conviction in which they are prepared to make disciples for Christ and His Catholic Church. The New Evangelization has largely ignored men, with no substantial or sustained efforts to directly confront the Catholic “man-crisis”.
Matthew Christoff has compiled an immense amount of statistics related to this man-crisis, and has spent countless hours interviewing priests and bishops on the topic. One interview that gained a great deal of attention was with His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke (go here to read).

Matthew goes on to say:

“Cardinal Burke and others have spoken about the de-sacralization of the Mass that has occurred in many places; this includes Masses which are priest-focused and not Christ-focused, the horizontal nature of “community” is over-emphasized while the vertical nature of the Divine Presence is de-emphasized, music which is syrupy and sentimental, a general lack of awe for the Eucharist by the priest and lay helpers, parish cultures which accept “going to the grocery store” attire and grabbing the Eucharist like a potato chip, a feminization of the Mass due to an over-representation of women and altar girls in the sanctuary, etc.” (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Madame Elisabeth's Wardrobe Book

The wardrobe book of the Princess Elisabeth from the summer of 1792. It seems all the ladies had one. Share

Which Equality?

From the Berkley Forum:
Americans have always been marked in a particular way by the ideal of “equality,” as the famous French traveler to our young nation, Alexis de Tocqueville, noted in his extensive travel log, Democracy in America. And no matter how much the ideal has been put into practice, the pursuit of equality never ceases to abate. On the contrary it is stoked to a point of missionary fervor in the face of territories apparently still untouched by the civilizing ideal. This is especially true now where the relation between men and women is in question. 

At first glance, there couldn’t be anything more obvious than men and women being thought of and treated as equals, in the sense of equally human, even if this has not always been evident to everyone, as for example in the famous medieval querelle des femmes—though we would need a sense of humor to understand some of this. And there couldn’t be anything more desirable, especially since the equality of the sexes would be the reason for bringing them together for life, in marriage. (“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother…”).  Indeed when Christine de Pisan—the “first feminist”—weighed in on the old quarrel, her arguments against misogyny were coincident with arguments against misogamy (anti-marriage sentiment). 
But when we realize that the “equality” of today’s “gender equity” means suppressing a girl’s menstrual cycle (with the pill), burying a co-ed’s desire for a guy who will love her forever (with hook-up surrogates), and  convincing a young graduate to put her ideal fertility window on hold (with corporate egg-freezing programs) in exchange for the often love-less, solitary, and always more complicated deferred motherhood (via IVF, surrogate motherhood, etc.), so that she can lean in” and get all her ducks in a row, we begin to ask, “What kind of equality is this?” We have come a long way from an equality which is the reason why “the two shall become one flesh.”  
“Equality” now refers to a state of mutual indifference between the sexes, achieved through a willed ignorance of all of the natural differences that turn a man and a woman toward each other. But to be more precise, it is a state of indifference to the woman’s difference. Simone de Beauvoir, for all of her insistence that gender was a social construct, said this unequivocally at the beginning of her famous tome, The Second Sex, when she insisted that the problem of inequality lay ultimately in the woman’s body, so that for her to be man’s “equal” she and she alone (unequally, that is) had to struggle against her nature (her body).The tragic irony of this “equality” was not lost on the younger French feminist, Luce Iregaray, who once asked her foresister and all the Americans in her thrall, “Equal to whom?” (Read more.)

Belloc on the Reformation

From author Stephanie Mann:
There is much that Belloc gets wrong in his Characters of the Reformation--details like Henry VIII having syphilis and Anne Boleyn having an extra finger--but his analysis of politics and personalities is often correct. It is his thesis that the Reformation was more a political event than theological and that England's break from Rome thwarted the political reunion of Christendom after Luther and Calvin divided the Continent.

That thesis drives his selection of characters: neither Martin Luther nor John Calvin have a chapter to themselves. Belloc selects instead, on the Continent for example, Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor, Gustavus Adolphus, and Cardinal Richelieu. The first tried to reunite Germany under Catholicism and failed; the second was the brilliant general who thwarted that attempt; the third was the éminence grise who aided the second to prevent German unity at the expense of French hegemony, and thus continued the break up of Christendom.

Because of the second part of his thesis, Belloc profiles almost all the important figures of the English Reformation era: Henry VIII, More, Cranmer, Cromwell, Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Mary Stuart, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth, etc. He also includes figures from the early Stuart era, two philosophers (Descartes and Pascal) and two more combatants: William of Orange and Louis XIV.

In each chapter, Belloc examines the personality of the individual he is profiling. His analysis of Henry VIII's character, for example, explains more than the usual attempt to trace a change in his personality. He identifies Henry's main characteristic as "an inability to withstand impulse; he was passionate for having his own way." Belloc notes that all those who helped Henry get his way (Wolsey, Cromwell, Anne Boleyn) flattered and led him until he grew tired of their control over him and destroyed them. Belloc thinks that only Catherine of Aragon loved and respected Henry but even she did not attempt to influence him in matters of self-control. As Belloc notes, she was so simple, direct, and straightforward that she did not understand intrigue: "She neither made scenes, nor intrigued to recover her position," Belloc states. She remained adamant that she would never respond to any other title than Queen of England, but she did not know how to manipulate others to achieve her goals. (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Louis XVI with Hunting Dog

A detail from a painting. Via Tiny-Librarian. Share

Helpful Links for Authors

From author Robert Bidinotto:
I am constantly approached by authors — especially those contemplating self-publishing — with requests for how-to information about writing and publishing. That includes questions about resources, such as lists of cover artists, editors, proofreaders, where to buy ISBNs, etc. Also, recommended books and blogs about fiction-writing and publishing.

That’s what this post is about. Rather than continue to respond to writers one at a time, repeating the same things, I want to compile in one place a list of links to places where you can find valuable information, resources, tips, and advice. This will include links to some of the popular advice posts scattered on this site. Some of the links below are to compendiums of other outside links — treasure troves of further information.

This list is just the beginning. I’ll constantly update this post with new information as I run across it, so make sure to check back from time to time. Bookmark this post so that you can consult it when you need further information.

Also, please share the link to this post with other writers, by email and on your social media. To do that on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, just click their “share” buttons alongside this post.

I’ll organize this post into the following broad categories:

I. General Information and Resources
II. Fiction-Writing Resources
III. Self-Publishing
IV. Marketing Your Books
(Read more.)

Sir Walter Scott and Historical Romance

From Regina Jeffers:
Structurally, Ivanhoe is divided into three parts: (1) Ivanhoe’s return to England in disguise and the tournament at Ashby constitutes the first section. [Disguise, at a point of reference, is a major motif in the novel, as not only Ivanhoe, but also Wamba, Richard, Cedric, and Locksley assume disguises.]; (2) Sir Maurice de Bracy kidnaps Cedric’s party. De Bracy lusts after Rowena. Richard and Locksley free the prisoners.; (3) The Templars and Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert take Rebecca captive. The trial-by-combat decides whether Rebecca will live or die. 
One of the major criticisms of Scott’s Ivanhoe is the freedom with which Scott employed historical fact. Also, Scott’s depiction of Jews is considered stereotypical at best. Yet, we must recall this is a “romance,” not a historical novel. As I write Regency romance, I am told often by those who write historicals that my novels are meant to please, not to instruct. Needless to say, I would beg to differ. I spend more hours than I would care to count in research, but my purpose here is not to debate whether there is room for imagination in the mist of research. What I wish to point out is how Scott’s opinion of King Richard goes against the idealized image of the King, especially that found in 19th Century England. Rosemary Mitchell, an Associate Principal Lecturer in History and Reader in Victorian Studies at Leeds Trinity University College, UK, says, “This is the message of Ivanhoe, with its equivocal chivalry: you can learn from the past, you can even recreate it, but ultimately you cannot and perhaps should not try to return to it.” [Mitchell, Rosemary, ‘Glory, Maiden, Glory': The Uncomfortable Chivalry of Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Open Letters Monthly: An Arts and Literature Review]

“The resolution of the novel has never been universally popular: the very earliest readers found fault with Scott’s decision to marry the hero to the blonde Anglo-Saxon princess, Rowena, rather than the beguiling brunette Rebecca, daughter of Isaac the Jew. Scott’s decision was not taken lightly: the marriage of Ivanhoe, the friend of the Norman King Richard and the flower of chivalry, was intended to symbolise the reconciliation of the Anglo-Saxons with their French conquerors and the foundation of an inclusive English nation. But not that inclusive: Scott, no mean medieval scholar and no rosy-eyed observer of his own time, does not pretend that Rebecca and her fellow Jews were acceptable to the new English people – or even to their nineteenth-century descendants. At the close of the novel, Rebecca and her father depart to Spain and we hear no more of them." (Read more.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Right Guard

Without pomp and circumstance, without outrageous language and literary machinations, you led me simply, skillfully and calmly into a cache of information that slowly became overwhelming in its scope and uncomfortably realistic. It is a profound book. One I won't forget for a long while. --Senior Military Officer, Pentagon, on The Right Guard by Alexandra Hamlet
Anyone who enjoys tales of espionage must not miss the debut novel of Alexandra Hamlet, The Right Guard. Based upon dozens of news stories which reported the theft of weapons from national guard and federal arsenals in the late 1970's, Ms. Hamlet weaves a story of political intrigue and treason taking place at the highest levels of the United States government. The author also draws upon her own experience as both a journalist and a defense anthropologist to create a realistic setting in frightening detail. For those who lived through the era in question, reading the book is like journeying back in time, as Ms. Hamlet captures the late '70's without any noticeable anachronisms. Yet the story is as relevant to our own decade as it is to the past, as many readers have already discovered.

The protagonist of The Right Guard is veteran CIA operative Eric Brent, to whom we are introduced in a brutal and heartrending scene in the first chapter. Born in Nazi Germany, Eric, the son of a German officer and scion of an aristocratic family, relocates to America with his family after the war. Eric is dedicated to serving his new country and by the time the novel opens has suffered multiple injuries in the course of his duties. Eric is summoned by his superiors to infiltrate a paramilitary group called "The Right Guard" who have been stealing weapons in order to overthrow the U.S. Government, which they believe has strayed from the Constitution. They plan to restore America to the values and principles of the Founding Fathers. As Eric befriends the leaders of the Right Guard, he is moved by their patriotism and idealism, and finds himself agreeing with most of their views. However, his past experiences and professionalism lead him to be wary, as he uncovers hidden agendas. 

Now Eric has already suffered a measure of personal loss due to his career, which naturally entails secrecy and being away months at a time. One of the losses was the charming and clever young political activist Jill Warren, who nevertheless comes back into his life through a series of coincidences. In the meantime, secrets are revealed, and Eric finds that not only his life is at stake but also everything he holds dear. The Right Guard is a must-read for those who enjoy political thrillers, especially a thriller that is not only historically accurate but also searches the enigmas of the human heart.

Alexandra Hamlet
Alexandra Hamlet kindly agreed to be interviewed for readers of Tea at Trianon, and I am happy to share our conversation.
EMV: Thank you, Alexandra, for making time for this interview. First of all, let me offer my congratulations on the success of your first novel, The Right Guard, which has won several prizes and garnered a great deal of critical acclaim. Could you tell us a little about your writer's journey? How long did it take for such an amazing novel to come together?
AHThank you for the opportunity. It’s my pleasure. The Right Guard has won 9 awards and it is being considered for film. It has been an incredible journey. I actually began The Right Guard in 1978, the same year the story begins in the book.
I wrote it in six months and then worked with it on and off for many years, but it went back into the closet a number of times. Late in 2010 after being in a motorcycle accident and being put into a body cast, I was miserable. I pulled it out again and worked on it to keep me busy - and also sane. This time I finished it
EMV: The research that went into The Right Guard is obviously thorough and expansive. Why did you choose the novel as the medium by which to tell the story you wanted to tell?
AH: I think the medium picks you. I was writing stories since I was eleven. I had always wanted to write a novel but wasn’t sure how. In the beginning, I just sat down and started page one. Little did I know how it would end. Once I started to put together the story, it took off on a life of its own.
EMV: Some people do not think historical novels require as much research as works of non-fiction. Do you agree or disagree?
AH: Historical novels require a huge amount of research. Not only do you have your story to prepare and your characters, you must place them in time and in an historical setting where they will play their parts. It’s a huge undertaking. The author takes on not only creating the genre but researching for facts placed in another world in time.  Giving your characters life to work out the story in the ‘given time’ takes a lot of effort.   
EMV: The Right Guard may challenge how some readers view our country. Do you agree with the old adage that those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it?
AH: Absolutely, I agree. I kept this in mind quite often as I wrote the story. We only have to view the recent past, just before World War II, to see how quickly a nation can forget that appeasement or lack of resolve can lead to disaster. The book is based on real events and I think that is what shakes readers. Many people have contacted me saying they weren’t sure they were reading fiction.
EMV: Although The Right Guard is a work of fiction it contains documentation chronicling the theft of weapons from the National Guard and Reserve armories. Are such thefts still happening today?
AH: No. There was a significant alteration on how those assets are protected today.
EMV: Can you tell us about your next project? Is there a sequel planned for The Right Guard? And is there a movie is the works?
AH: I am working on another suspense thriller now, set in Washington, D.C. and Virginia. It has a female lead and involves the spy world and how a young woman innocently gets caught up in that world.   However, The Right Guard is a series of three books and I will be back working on RG 2 in the near future.
As far as film, my husband and I flew out to Los Angeles to talk with a director and producer at their request. Seems like there is a lot of interest in the book and a contract was floated about.  I now have a film agent as well as a literary agent. I guess now, we wait.  I am as anxious as the readers to see what happens next.
EMV: Thank you so much for answering my questions, Alexandra, and I look forward to the film and to your upcoming novels!
Please visit Alexandra at her website and blog

(*NOTE: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.)


Five Reasons Children Should Learn Cursive Writing

From Time:
Research suggests that printing letters and writing in cursive activate different parts of the brain. Learning cursive is good for children’s fine motor skills, and writing in longhand generally helps students retain more information and generate more ideas. Studies have also shown that kids who learn cursive rather than simply manuscript writing score better on reading and spelling tests, perhaps because the linked-up cursive forces writers to think of words as wholes instead of parts. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Marie-Antoinette's Wardrobe Book, 1782

Tiny-Librarian quotes Antonia Fraser:
The Wardrobe Book of 1782, in the care of the Comtesse d’Ossun, survives. Each outfit is categorized and accompanied by a tiny swatch of material. There are samples for the court dresses in various shades of pink, in shadowy grey-striped tissue and in the self-striped turquoise velvet intended for Easter.  

But what is notable is the preponderance of swatches for the more casual clothes, the loose Lévites shown together on one page in an array of colours, from pale grey and pale blue through to the much darker shades of maroon and navy, sometimes with small sprigs embroidered between the stripes.  There are redingotes (from the English word riding-coat) in the same palette of blues, as well as a particular mauve marked Bertin-Normand, coupling together the names of the couturier and the silk-merchant.  Swatches for the so-called ‘Turkish’ robes are shown in self-striped pink and very dark mauve, for the robes anglaises in turquoise and self-striped mauve as well as dark maroon striped in pale blue.  One swatch of material, supplied by the other celebrated silk-merchant, Jean-Nicholas Barbier, uses the Queen’s favourite cornflower to good effect, set in a design of wavy cream-coloured stripes. (Read more.)

The Reformation: Truth and Falsehood

From Eamon Duffy at The Telegraph:
For five centuries England has been in denial about the role of Roman Catholicism in shaping it. The coin in your pocket declares the monarch to be Defender of the Faith. Since 1558 that has meant the Protestant faith, but Henry VIII actually got the title from the Pope for defending Catholicism against Luther. Henry eventually broke with Rome because the Pope refused him a divorce, and along with the papacy went saints, pilgrimage, the monastic life, eventually even the Mass itself – the pillars of medieval Christianity.
To explain that revolution, the Protestant reformers told a story. Henry had rejected not the Catholic Church, but a corrupt pseudo-Christianity which had led the world astray. John Foxe embodied this story unforgettably in his Book of Martyrs, subsidised by the Elizabethan government as propaganda against Catholicism at home and abroad. For Foxe, Queen Elizabeth was her country’s saviour, and the Reformation itself the climax of an age-old struggle between God, represented by the monarch, and the devil, represented by the Pope.
Fear of Catholic Spain, the greatest power in Europe, gave Foxe’s story urgency. That fear escalated under the Stuart kings, for all of them married Catholics, and were suspected of favouring their wives’ religion. The prospect of a persecuting Catholicism imposed by an apostate monarchy fuelled Protestant anxiety. It led to Civil War, and the execution of King Charles I. Ironically, Charles was a loyal Anglican, but both his sons, Charles II and James II, did eventually embrace Catholicism.
In 1679 fear of Catholicism triggered a last orgy of persecution. The so called Popish Plot, to murder the king and seize the throne, was a paranoid fantasy concocted by Titus Oates, but it unleashed a wave of gruesome executions, including the judicial murder of the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Oliver Plunkett. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Queen of Scots as a Young Child

A drawing of Mary Stuart as the small girl who charmed the Court of France. Via Tiny-Librarian.

And HERE is an article about the four Maries. Share

The Problem with Carmen

From CBC Music:
George Bizet’s tale of love, lust and betrayal is one of opera’s most familiar stories. Carmen herself is arguably the most famous character in all of opera — but does anyone actually understand what makes her tick?

Canadian mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy has sung the role a number of times throughout her career. “Carmen is very intelligent, extremely quick witted and tremendously fun,” she explains. “This is all part of her appeal.” But, McHardy surmises that any deeper knowledge of Carmen’s inner life is beside the point. “I don’t know that we want to know more about her,” she says. “We want to see that iconic femme fatale, period.”

That “femme fatale” interpretation is pretty much the default for Carmen, both onstage and onscreen. From Elīna Garanča’s anger to Anita Rachvelishvili’s joie-de-vivre to Julia Migenes’ smirking seductiveness, the character is known and celebrated for being the very embodiment of sex appeal, and is almost always portrayed with big hair, open shoulders, big bust, and bare feet. (Read more.)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Marie-Josephine of Savoy

An Edouard Gautier d'Agoty portrait of the Comtesse de Provence from 1777. Via Tiny-Librarian. Share

Alice von Hildebrand on Moral Courage

Via Mary Victrix:
This perverse view has been carefully prepared by a so called “education,” aiming at convincing us that there are no absolute moral truths: they are all relative and depend upon the time and the culture that one happens to live it. It was declared to be “high time” to liberate ourselves from paralyzing taboos which have kept us in bondage. This view also justifies “same sex marriage” – a moral abomination that threatens the very fabric of society and that a no- nonsense Italian peasant would condemn on the ground that “no door can be opened if lock and key are identical.” From time immemorial – starting with Genesis – marriage has been declared to be the union of a man and a woman – whose spiritual, intellectual, affective and biological structures are so admirably complementary. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Marie-Antoinette's Dairy

The dairy at the Queen's farm. It was a working dairy, not just a folly. Via Tiny-Librarian. Share

Death in the City

From The Guardian:
As well as sewerage, another “waste removal” problem plagued London in the 19th century: the disposal of the dead. There was little dispute about the means. Burial was the norm; cremation a peculiar foreign custom. The difficulty lay in finding room for an ever-increasing number of corpses. The capital’s burgeoning population, upon their decease, were filling up its small churchyards, burial grounds and vaults...Clearance of long-buried bones had always taken place; but the growing demand for burials in crowded grounds meant the work became ever more grisly.

Moreover, by the 1840s London’s overcrowded churchyards (and the older, small commercial grounds in the centre of the capital) were not only seen as posing a logistical challenge, but damned as a source of “miasma”. Sanitary reformers quite mistakenly believed that the stench from poorly interred decaying bodies was poisoning the metropolis. The practice of urban burial was touted as a profound menace to public health. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Beehive Huts

In South West Kerry. To quote:
Beehive huts can be found in great numbers in County Kerry, Ireland. The most well known examples are to be found at the monastic settlement on Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichíl). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this early Christian monastery clings to the steep cliffs of an isolated rocky island situated to the west of the mainland of the Iveragh Peninsula. A visitors centre on Valentia Island (Dairbhre) gives some excellent background on the monastic settlement, its structures, and the men that dwelt in them. From Valentia, the more intrepid explorer may travel by boat to the Skellig Isles and explore Skellig Michael by foot if they dare tackle the hundreds of steep steps leading to the monastery which was believed to have been founded between the 6th and 8th Centuries. (Read more.)

Haec Sancta

From Once I Was a Clever Boy:
Today [April 6] is the anniversary of the passing of what J. N. Figgis, the early twentieth century historian of political ideas, and an Anglican priest, termed " [p]robably the most revolutionary official document in the history of the world."

What is this revolutionary text? The American Declaration of Independence? The Declaration of the Rights of Man? THe Communist Manifesto? The Ninety Five Theses? Magna Carta? The Edict of Milan?

No, none of the above. What Figgis had in mind when he wrote Political Thought from Gerson to Grotius: 1414-1625: Seven Studies (1907) which had been originally delivered as the Birkbeck Lectures at Trinity College in 1900, was the Decree Haec Sancta voted on by the Council of Constance in its Fifth Session, on this day in 1415. (Read more.)

The Strange Death of Richard the Lionheart

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
What most historians agree on is that Richard was walking the chateau's perimeter without wearing his chain mail and he was shot by a castle defender using a crossbow. The wound in his left shoulder turned gangrenous. It steadily grew worse over the next 10 days. Some wrote that while dying Richard asked that the bowman be brought to him. He then forgave the man, who was named Peter Basil, and instructed that he should not be harmed. Richard died in the arms of his mother on April 6th. Later, defying Richard's orders, Peter Basil was flayed alive and hanged.

Why did Richard I, a seasoned and expert warrior, expose himself to a bowman's shot? Did the king and crusader put his life at risk to claim some grubby treasure dug up from the ground--why?
(Read more.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hatfield House

From Time Travel-Britain:
On November 17, 1558, Lady Elizabeth Tudor was sitting beneath an oak tree at her Hatfield estate -- either reading or eating an apple -- when she received the news that she was Queen of England. We're told that as the courtiers who came bearing the news bowed before their new queen, Elizabeth got on her knees and said in Latin, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes." Within hours, Queen Elizabeth I's councilors had gathered around her for her first Council of State, held in the Great Hall of The Royal Palace of Hatfield. One of those councilors was William Cecil, Elizabeth's trusted friend and chief advisor whose family name would eventually become closely tied to Hatfield. For several days, Hatfield played host to the influx of courtiers and the Great Hall was the forum for the many meetings, appointments and confirmations vital to a new reign. Elizabeth officially addressed her councilors and courtiers for the first time as Queen in the Great Hall, seated on her throne under the canopy of estate. On November 23, barely a week after she sat unknowing under that tree, Elizabeth left Hatfield, accompanied by her entourage of more than 1000, for London, returning to her childhood home only rarely. (Read more.)

Founding Fathers and Slaveholders

From Smithsonian:
So it is of particular irony to admit that Jefferson was as remarkable a man as America has produced. "Spent the evening with Mr. Jefferson," John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary in 1785, "whom I love to be with....You can never be an hour in the man’s company without something of the marvelous." And even Abigail Adams wrote of him, "He is one of the choice ones of the earth."

Jefferson was born rich and became well educated. He was a man of principle (except for slaves, Indians, and women). His civic duty was paramount to him. He read, deeply and widely, more than any other president of the United States except, possibly, Theodore Roosevelt. He wrote well and with more productivity and skill than any other president except, perhaps, Theodore Roosevelt. Wherever Jefferson sat was the head of the table. Those few who got to dine with him around a small table always recalled his charm, wit, insights, queries, explanations, gossip, curiosity, and above all else his laughter.

Jefferson’s range of knowledge was astonishing. Science in general. Flora and fauna specifically. Geography. Fossils. The classics and modern literature. Languages. Politicians of all types. Politics, state by state, county by county. International affairs. He was an intense partisan. He loved music and playing the violin. He wrote countless letters about his philosophy, observations of people and places. In his official correspondence, Jefferson maintained a level of eloquence not since equaled. I’ve spent much of my professional life studying presidents and generals, reading their letters, examining their orders to subordinates, making an attempt to judge them. None match Jefferson. (Read more.)

Dealing with Rejection As a Writer

Some wise words from Fiction Factor:
Despite beliefs to the contrary, editors are people. They breathe real air and work at real jobs. They go home to real homes and have real families (sometimes). They have bosses to answer to and they must fulfill job descriptions, like anyone else.

An editor’s job is to purchase manuscripts (be they novels, short stories or articles) for the publishing house who pays the checks on pay day. In order for that editor to keep receiving pay checks, the publishing house must continue to sell enough books (or magazines) to enough readers to guarantee the running costs will be covered for another week.

If the editor purchases manuscripts that do NOT return sufficient profit for the publishing house to remain in business, then everyone loses. The author’s work is STILL rejected, the editor loses his or her job, and thousands of related workers will also join unemployment cues once the publishing house files for bankruptcy and closes its doors.

Now that we all understand that trivial fact, let’s ask the following question:
Why do so many writers feel the need to exact a bloody, dire revenge on an editor who is simply doing his or her job?

Whilst researching for this article, I visited some “Coping with Rejection” sites. One of these sites offers a place for rejected authors to vent their frustration and anger at hapless editors.

On one forum, I happened across the angry rantings of a rejected writer, determined to let the world know that he thought all publishers and all agents were only out to find out ‘how much money that writer can make for [them] anyway.”

I’d like to know who told that unhappy Rejected Author that the industry was ever any different! Let’s be honest. If your book is not popularly liked by the masses (your readers!) then no copies are going to sell. If no copies sell, then the publisher has lost money. The editor has lost money. The bookstore has lost money. The author has lost money – oh wait – the author has to pay back any money that wasn’t covered by sales…

Honestly, the publishing industry is a money and sales oriented business – just like any other. Why try to internalize something that is simply about how many books are going to sell of how many shelves on any day? (Read more.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Marriage by Proxy: April 19, 1770

The Augustinian Church at the Hofburg in Vienna
April 19, 1770 was the day the Dauphin Louis-Auguste and Marie-Antoinette of Lorraine-Austria officially became husband and wife through a proxy marriage ceremony.

To quote:
On April 19th, 1770, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were married by proxy inside the Augustinian Church, which is located next to the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. Many Habsburg weddings had taken place there, including that of Antoinette’s parents 34 years before.

The bride wore a cloth of silver gown, her train carried by Countess Trautmannsdorf as her mother led her up the aisle. Her older brother, Archduke Ferdinand, stood in for the groom.
A cloth of silver gown (Image source.)

Remarkable Beggars

From Spitalfields Life:
John Thomas Smith drew compassionate portraits of the beggars of London at the beginning of the nineteenth century. He was fascinated by the different ways in which the outcast poor scraped an existence out of little more than resourcefulness in the city streets and there is a dramatic equivocation in his acute portrayals, simultaneously witnessing the need and celebrating the spirit of his subjects. (Read more.)

Five Ways We Hurt People's Feelings

From Seton Magazine:
Those who hurt someone’s feelings thoughtlessly trample on human sensibility with no apologies. They assume that they have not done any harm but simply had a change of mind or encountered complicating circumstances.

They act as if their self-interest demands prudence and they are without guilt or fault. They think that the victim of hurt feelings will easily recover, feel no resentment, and accept disappointment without grief. Nevertheless, these episodes of hurt feelings cause deep wounds, not slight discomforts. (Read more.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Madame Victoire de France

From Tiny-Librarian: "A portrait of Madame Victoire playing the harp, done in 1773 by Etienne Aubry." Share

The Vatican and the Armenian Genocide

From Aleteia:
To help understand the true history behind the 1915-16 atrocity, Aleteia interviewed the German historian and author, Dr. Michael Hesemann, who was in Rome for Sunday’s Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica commemorating the 100th anniversary of the genocide, otherwise known as Metz Yeghern [the Great Evil].

The atrocity involved the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects inside their historic homeland which lies within the territory constituting present-day Turkey. The total number of people killed in what is also known as the Armenian Holocaust is estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million.

In a new book entitled, The Armenian Genocide [Völkermord an den Armeniern], Hesemann reveals for the first time the content of never-before-published documents on “the greatest crime of World War I,” and how Pope Benedict XV and Vatican diplomacy tried to stop the deportations of the Armenians into the Syrian desert, save the victims and prevent the massacre of an entire people.

In this interview, Hesemann shares his findings, which include evidence of Masonic involvement, and expresses both his admiration for Pope Francis for drawing attention to the genocide of Christians and ethnic minorities, and his disappointment over the absence of the German Ambassador to the Holy See at Sunday’s commemorative Mass. (Read more.)

How to Behave on Social Media

Some wise advice from author Nat Russo:
Understand the medium and the nature of these “attacks” before you do anything. I’m going to use Twitter as an example, but this applies to any social network you participate in.
Twitter is about now, not five minutes ago. If you let the negative comments go without responding to them, they’ll be nothing more than a flash in the pan. If you choose to get involved, however, you’ll breathe life into something that would have otherwise died quickly.
For Facebook and other social networks where messages have a longer life, it’s even more important that you refrain from getting involved. You’re under no obligation to respond just because someone commented on your post.
We can’t control how we feel, but we can control how we behave.
If you refrain from responding, the vast majority of your followers won’t even notice the comment was made. If you respond to the attack or negative comment in any way, you dramatically increase the chance the situation will spiral out of control. People will choose sides and you will have sparked an all out social network war. You are your brand. Is this how you want your brand to be perceived? (Read more.)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

"Madame Elisabeth of France" by Joseph Ducreux (1770)

Some thoughts from Anna Gibson:
This portrait of a young Madame Elisabeth by Joseph Ducreux was painted in 1770, the same year that her new sister-in-law, Marie Antoinette, arrived from Vienna. Elisabeth would have been only 5 or 6 at the time of the sitting. Although like many painted children, her face seems more mature than her years, there is still an element of cherubic youthfulness to her face in this portrait. This is exemplified by the simple nature of her headdress, which seems to be hiding a relatively simple and unadorned hairstyle. (Read more.)

The Power of Checklists

From The Art of Manliness:
When you hear the word “checklist” what probably comes to mind is your daily/weekly to-do list. With a to-do list you write out your more urgent tasks, and work your way through them. As you cross some things off, you add new tasks to the list.

To-do lists are definitely awesome for getting things done, but there’s another kind of checklist as well – what I call the “routine checklist.” With a routine checklist, you write down all the steps/tasks needed to complete a certain project or process. The list of tasks never changes. You use the same checklist over and over again, every time you do that particular process/project.

While the checklist may sound, well, awfully routine, it’s a tool that can truly help you survive and thrive in our modern, complex world. Don’t believe me? Here are just two of the many examples surgeon and author Atul Gawande highlights in his book, The Checklist Manifesto, that demonstrate the surprising power of checklists: (Read more.)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

From Tiny-Librarian: "A portrait of Princess Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine. She was a childhood friend of Marie Antoinette, and Louise was in her entourage when she traveled to France to be married. The two continued to exchange letters until 1792." Share

Natural Children of James V King of Scots

From Unusual Historicals:
His two legitimate sons, James Stewart and Robert Stewart, were born about a year apart and died about a month apart, just after Robert was born, about mid-year in 1541 and just about a year before King James himself died, leaving Mary Queen at the age of six days.

King James no doubt had never expected succession to come down to an infant girl, for although he had only three legitimate heirs, he fathered at least nine children out of wedlock, three of those before he was twenty. Seven of those children were sons.

It is these illegitimate children I write about today.

As with so many Scottish kings, James was crowned while still an infant, at the age of one, just after the death of his father, James IV, in 1513. The tale is told that young James V was encouraged in his debauchery by one of his regents, but to be fair, illegitimate children had long been a royal prerogative, in England and Scotland. Young James came by it honestly. His own father had seven children out of wedlock by four different mistresses.

But James, who became king in his own right at age 16, was able to best his father. And although the identities of some of the mothers of his children are lost to history, some of his mistresses were the daughters of Scottish nobles. Their children were treated accordingly. This meant that several of them played prominent roles in Scottish history and proved problematic to their half sister, Queen Mary.

Five of the illegitimate sons of King James V were named “Priors” as children. This meant they held the five richest livings in the Scottish Church—Holyrood, Kelso, Melrose, Coldingham, and St Andrews. (This did not happen, of course, without the approval of the Pope. James apparently wrote asking his permission for three of his illegitimate sons to receive ecclesiastical positions before 1532, when the boys were still babes.)

I’ve listed the children below. Don’t worry if you get confused. Three are named James, their father’s name; two are named Robert. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Marie-Antoinette's Grandmother

From Tiny-Librarian: "Detail of a portrait of Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, the mother of Maria Theresa." Share

The Wars of Religion

For people interested in some of the genuine historical background behind Reign. From France This Way:
Francis II became King of France in 1559, when he was just 15 years old. Trying to take advantage of his weak position, the Guises and two other families battled to control the throne, and the Guises won through - they were also fanatical Catholics.

When Francis II died just a year later, his even younger brother (Charles IX) took the throne, but because of his young age it was his mother, Catherine de Medici, who controlled the kingdom. Catherine de Medici, seeing the threat posed by the Guise family, gave support to the two other leading noble families, the Bourbons and the Montmorency-Chatillons. But supporting these two families meant she had to support the Huguenots, and in 1562 the right was granted to Huguenots to worship outside towns, and to hold church assemblies. But Catherine de Medici herself remained a Catholic.

In March 1562, all this religious freedom had become too much for the Guise family, and the Duke of Guise led an army against a protestant church  in Champagne. The entire congregation, unarmed men, women and children were slaughtered (see picture: the Massacre of Wassy)

This was to be the start of almost 40 years of war. During the first three civil wars (1562–63, 1567–68, 1568–70) Catherine de Medici struggled to find a balance between the Catholic and Protestant sides, with some success, and a temporary peace was found in 1570.

But this was not too last. Catherine plotted with the Guise family to assassinate a member of the Montmorency-Chatillons family, but the plot failed and the truth of the attempt soon emerged. A Protestant uprising seemed likely, and to pre-empt this Catherine persuaded Charles IX to act first. The most infamous period of the wars was about to start. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Theater Suit

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
This suit made of ruby red silk velvet was inspired by a costume worn to a masquerade party in 1938. Called 'Watteau" and modeled after the dress of the male figure in a painting by Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721), the suit represents a successful melding of contemporary and historical styles. The suit was intended to be worn with a flared floor-length skirt; the original owner, Diana Vreeland (1903–1989), shortened the skirt when the garment was in her personal wardrobe. Chanel herself wore a version of this suit executed in black velvet. (Read more.)

Flower Seller at the Tuileries

By Henri Victor Lesur. 19th century.Via Vive la Reine. Share

James I and Witchcraft

If James had been brought up by his mother he would not have been such a fanatic. To quote:
Upon returning to Scotland, James had no fewer than seventy of his subjects rounded up on suspicion of bewitching his fleet and that of his new wife. He personally superintended the interrogation of many of the suspects, including the ringleader – a 'wise woman' named Agnes Sampson. Taking 'great delight' in her torture, he was dismayed when she suddenly called a halt to the proceedings and beckoned the king to her. She then whispered something in his ear that made him go as white as a sheet. It transpired that she had repeated the very words that had passed between James and Anne on their wedding night – words that no other mortal soul could possibly have known. If James needed any further proof that witches existed, this was it. He sent Agnes straight to the flames. Thousands more of his subjects – both in Scotland and (after 1603) in England would perish for the same crime. (Read more.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Napoleon and Lafayette

Lafayette in 1824
From author Shannon Selin:
In 1797, the Directory instructed then General Napoleon Bonaparte to negotiate the release of the prisoners at Olmütz as part of the Treaty of Campo Formio. This Napoleon did, earning Lafayette’s gratitude. Lafayette’s view of Napoleon was not entirely rosy, however. In October 1799, not long before Napoleon’s coup d’état of 18 Brumaire, Lafayette wrote to a friend:
Bonaparte thinks only of his own ambition, and until now has not found glory in serving liberty…. He will risk no personal advantage for the sake of liberty; he has proved that his soul could quite happily watch and even cooperate in its violation. If, however, his fame and his ambition demand that he put himself forward in defence of the cause, he will do so. His wish must be to establish the Republic on a solid foundation of liberty and justice. (1)
Lafayette and Napoleon met several times when Napoleon was First Consul. They had an extended conversation at Joseph Bonaparte’s estate on October 2, 1800, during a party to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Mortefontaine between France and the United States. Part of the discussion reportedly went as follows:
Napoleon: ‘You must have found the French looking very coldly upon liberty.’
Lafayette: ‘Yes, but they are in a condition to receive it.’
Napoleon: ‘They are much disgusted, the Parisians, for example. The shopkeepers want no more of it.’
Lafayette: ‘It’s not lightly, General, that I’ve used this expression. I do not ignore the effect of the crimes and follies which have profaned the name of liberty; but the French are, perhaps, more than ever in a state to receive it. It is for you to give it; it is from you that it is expected.’ (2)
By now you will have gathered that liberty was a bit of sticking point between Napoleon and Lafayette. Still, they remained on friendly terms. As Napoleon gradually began to admit exiles back into France, Lafayette asked for the names of his friends and relatives to be removed from the list of proscribed persons, a request that Napoleon granted. Napoleon also (through intermediaries) invited Lafayette to join the Senate and offered him the position of ambassador to the United States, but Lafayette refused. (Read more.)

Why the Great Famine is Not Taught Correctly in American Schools

From Irish Central:
Thomas Gallagher points out in Paddy’s Lament, that during the first winter of famine, 1846-47, as perhaps 400,000 Irish peasants starved, landlords exported 17 million pounds sterling worth of grain, cattle, pigs, flour, eggs, and poultry—food that could have prevented those deaths. Throughout the famine, as Gallagher notes, there was an abundance of food produced in Ireland, yet the landlords exported it to markets abroad.

The school curriculum could and should ask students to reflect on the contradiction of starvation amidst plenty, on the ethics of food exports amidst famine. And it should ask why these patterns persist into our own time.

More than a century and a half after the “Great Famine,” we live with similar, perhaps even more glaring contradictions. Raj Patel opens his book, Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System: “Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on Earth are hungry. The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: that they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet who are overweight.”

Patel’s book sets out to account for “the rot at the core of the modern food system.” This is a curricular journey that our students should also be on — reflecting on patterns of poverty, power, and inequality that stretch from 19th century Ireland to 21st century Africa, India, Appalachia, and Oakland; that explore what happens when food and land are regarded purely as commodities in a global system of profit. (Read more.)